Downtown Frederick was the site of two protests Friday night, both of which called out the same name: Breonna Taylor. The decision in Louisville to not charge any of the three officers involved in her death with murder pushed both Frederick’s March for Justice (FMJ) and Frederick United to take to the streets, albeit in different fashions.
“Her life mattered,” said Alijah Gee, standing outside Brewer’s Alley on Market Street with protesters from FMJ sitting around her. “She could have been me. She could have been my sister.”
FMJ decided to hold a sit-in, where protesters sat in silence for 8 minutes and 46 seconds — the amount of time Derek Chauvin knelt on George Floyd’s neck in Minneapolis this spring.
After the silence, they called upon the diners who were surrounding them to pay attention and use their privileges to have hard conversations.
“We’re here to make people uncomfortable,” Gee said. “Since the government doesn’t want to do it, we have to do it ourselves.”
The event ended with protesters lying in the street to symbolize her death. It was largely representative of the way Akiyyah Billups, FMJ organizer, said she sees the country: Black and brown bodies lying in the street while others sit eating their dinner, not paying attention.
“It’s symbolic to the economic oppression that Black and brown people go through as well,” she said. “We need to fix that.”
Many people did pay attention, raising their fists with the protesters and chanting Taylor’s name. But others were not fazed, even when protesters directly called upon them or chanted near their tables.
“I’m tired of having this conversation. White people, I’m telling you, put your foot down if you stand with me,” said Dajah Gee. “I want to make you uncomfortable. I want you to have these conversations.”
Frederick United’s march started at the Baker Park Bandshell, where organizer Kristen Lundy asked all the Black women in attendance to get up on stage with her.
“While you’re thinking of Breonna Taylor, realize that we have Black women here, every day, going through some of the things that she has gone through, and other things as well,” Lundy said. “So let’s get started and let’s march.”
The group of about 50 people marched up Bentz Street, across 3rd Street and to Market Street, where they eventually were in the same spot as the FMJ group. Frederick United cut ties with FMJ in August following events at a “We Back Blue” rally outside the sheriff’s office.
Lundy said it was important for her to march in Frederick to show Louisville that they stand in solidarity with them, and to demand change in the county as well. She criticized the grand jury decision in Louisville to not prosecute any officers for Taylor’s death as “bogus.” One officer was charged for his actions during the raid, but not specifically for Taylor’s death.
“It just reinstated what Black women have heard since you come out the womb, it’s like your life doesn’t matter,” Lundy said. “And we’re shown that in various different ways.”
Frederick United is holding a family-friendly event on Saturday at 3 p.m. in Mullinix Park.